I’m taking a break from my normal beauty and fashion stuff to bring you the second part of my interview of the women who are striving to end all violence against women here and abroad. As I told you ladies last time, I basically asked these women a little bit about themselves and the organization they work for and then about their views on the current state of affairs when it comes to violence against women. The first woman I interviewed was Cindy Dyer of Vital Voices. This week, I’m bringing you my interview with Carol Kurzig, the President of the Avon Foundation for Women.
Carol Kurzig, President of the Avon Foundation for Women
Carol Kurzig joined the Avon Foundation for Women in January 2004, and currently serves as its President. Carol is responsible for the development and implementation of the Foundation’s strategic mission, its fund-raising and grant-making programs. Prior to joining Avon, Carol served as President of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s New York City Chapter for 20 years.
1. As President of the Avon Foundation, what goals of you set for your foundation this year and how to do you plan to meet them?
The Avon Foundation for Women has been improving and saving women’s lives since its founding in 1955, and, in that time, Avon global philanthropy has raised and donated more than $725 million worldwide for causes that are most important to women. Today the Foundation’s mission is focused on ending breast cancer and domestic violence, and assisting those impacted by these issues.
The Avon Breast Cancer Crusade, a global movement launched in 1992, is focused at accelerating breast cancer research and improving access to quality care for all patients, regardless of their ability to pay. This year’s Avon Walk Around the World events will be held to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer in more than 50 countries, and Avon Pink Ribbon Products will be sold to further support awareness and fund raising efforts globally. Avon is proud to be the largest corporate supporter of the fight against breast cancer.
The Avon Foundation launched Speak Out Against Domestic Violence in 2004 to provide funding to domestic violence organizations for awareness, education, and prevention programs, as well as direct services for victims. Since then, Avon global philanthropy has committed more than $18 million to end violence against women, including $8 million from the global sales of the Avon Empowerment Products.
To continue this momentum, earlier this year Avon launched the new Empowerment Ring during a Global Summit focusing on ending violence against women held in Washington, DC. The Women’s Empowerment Ring, (priced at $5.00) is being sold through Avon Representatives in over 45 countries and on www.avon.com, with 100% of net profits ( $3.80 for each ring sold) going to support domestic violence programs. We will shortly add an Empowerment Pashmina wrap, as companion pieces to the Avon Empowerment Bracelet and the Women’s Empowerment Necklace, launched in 2008 and 2009 respectively, which together have raised $8 million globally. Our more than 6 million Avon Representatives worldwide sell these products to help raise funds and awareness, as well as to mobilize women and men to speak out against the violence that impact millions of women around the world.
In addition, this year’s innovative partnership with Vital Voices and the US Department of State, creating the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Women, established a unique cross sector collaboration that escalates the impact of our efforts and allows us to add our expertise to those of other organizations that share our goals. These partnerships enhance our ability to leverage Avon’s unique resources, such as our fund raising capabilities and our grass roots connections to women around the world through our Avon Representatives, to raise awareness about issues of importance to women.
2. What progress has been made here at home as well as abroad since your involvement in this cause and what changes still need to be made? How does the Avon Foundation for Women plan to help in bringing about these changes?
We continue to escalate our efforts to raise funds and awareness to reduce domestic and gender violence, both here in the US and in more than 50 countries. People are beginning to recognize the gravity of this global epidemic, as more organizations and individuals begin to raise their voices and speak out on this topic. But, we still have a very long way to go. Approximately one in three women globally is likely to experience domestic or gender violence in her lifetime, and this startling statistic has a devastating impact on children, families, communities and the global economy, stunting economic growth at the cost of trillions per year in US dollars. Around the world, services for victims are often largely underfunded or nonexistent. Some countries have no laws to protect women, while in others, laws are not understood or enforced.
To address that need, last year the Avon Foundation launched the Avon Global Center for Women and Justice at Cornell Law School with a $1.5 million grant. This center works with judges, legal professionals, and governmental and non-governmental organizations to improve access to justice for victims of gender violence. It also provides a comprehensive data base of international law relating to violence against women to further advance local efforts to protect women.
As I mentioned earlier, we recently held a three day global Summit in Washington, D.C., to launch The Global Partnership to End Violence Against Women with Vital Voices and the US Department of State in March, 2010. The Partnership brought together delegations from 15 countries to create and share innovative solutions and develop new partnerships and global and local action plans, to help address the need for serious, sustained, collaborative and culturally-sensitive local solutions that can change the all too daunting statistics in a measurable way. We were inspired by the extraordinary women and men who participated. We are hopeful that with committed partners we can make a difference.
Photo courtesy of: Avon